As you age, it is common to experience times of depression and anxiety. However, when those passing emotions/feelings become regular and start to impact your life, it’s time to take action. This is because your behavioral health is just as important as your physical health as you age.
At AgeWell Medical Associates in Colorado Springs, CO, we provide our patients with the necessary behavioral health treatments to ensure their life is just as wonderful as they reach the twilight years as in the prime of their lives. We work hard to ensure all our patients are living a happy, well-adjusted life.
If you or your loved one are interested in learning more about the behavioral health and the many other senior care services offered at AgeWell Medical, give us a call today:
Keep reading for answers to common questions about behavioral health care …
What Is Behavioral Health?
Behavioral health encompasses mental conditions as well. Though behavioral health can also include addictive behaviors, when it comes to older individuals, it most often refers to mental or neurological disorders.
How Common Are Behavioral Health Disorders?
According to World Health Organization, neurological and mental disorders make up 6.6 percent of all disabilities within the 60 years and above age group. Another 15% of adults aged 60 and older currently suffer from a mental disorder. The National Council on Aging also stated that one in every four older adults has a mental illness. Therefore, it’s safe to conclude that mental illness in the aging population is pretty common.
Common Symptoms of Mental Illness in Older Adults
Many times the aging person won’t notice the development of a mental illness within their own lives. Therefore, it’s important for family members and friends to be on the lookout for the following symptoms that indicate a mental issue:
- Memory Loss: Yes, it’s a normal part of aging to become forgetful on occasion. That isn’t an issue. However, when memory loss becomes cognitive and persistent, it moves into the realm of problematic and might indicate a behavioral health condition.
- Confusion: Another indication of a potential mental issue includes having trouble concentrating, getting disoriented and experiencing confusion.
- Depression: Feeling down on occasion isn’t abnormal. When depression lasts longer than two weeks, though, it is considered a problem and needs to be addressed.
- A Change in Weight: Weight loss or gain can cause issues, especially when you are an older adult. In some instances changes in weight can be the result of a mental or behavioral health problem. This is because your appetite is often affected by these conditions.
- Changes in Appearance: Another indication that you or your loved one might have a behavioral health condition is a change in appearance. For example, a person who once took great pride in their appearance suddenly has no interest in getting cleaned up, fixing their hair or practicing good personal hygiene.
- Social Withdrawal: Mental and behavior issues can also cause social withdrawal or loss in the joy of living.
- Worthless Feelings: Mental problems can also cause you to feel worthless to make your life feel less worthwhile. These worthless feelings might also make you feel helpless, cause feelings of guilt or even lead you to consider suicide.
- Physical Problems: Though many consider mental or behavioral issues only in terms of feelings, physical problems can be the result. You might also notice changes in sleep and a loss of energy or unexplained fatigue. When you are feeling aches and pains that cannot be explained by a physical condition, you must consider mental illness and/or behavioral health issues as a culprit.
Why Paying Attention to Behavioral Health/ Mental Issues Is So Important
Though science has limited knowledge of how the brain truly impacts the body, it is well known that mental health goes hand—in-hand with overall health. In addition, physical conditions like heart disease, cancer and diabetes can be aggravated or made worse by behavioral health issues.
Risk Factors for Developing Mental or Behavioral Health Issues
Though they don’t always go together, there are some factors that increase your risk of developing mental health issues. A few are listed below:
- Chronic Pain: Being in pain makes everyone feel bad. However, when pain is the result of chronic condition, people can feel despondent or without hope. This can lead to depression and anxiety.
- Reduction in Mobility: Of course, going from easily walking around, driving yourself to and from various locations and taking care of yourself to being immobile can make anyone feel bad. Therefore, when you mobility is reduced, don’t be surprised if you feel down and eventually develop a mental or behavior condition.
- Change in Life Situation: Losing a loved one, moving into a new living facility or home or simply aging can cause one to experience depression.
Depression and Dementia Are Public Health Issues
The World Health Organization states that dementia and depression within the older population should be considered a public health issue. Dementia is a chronic, progressive syndrome that causes memory problems. It also alters behavior and causes daily tasks to become difficult.
Depression causes significant problems in those who experience it regularly. As a condition, it is often under treated and under diagnosed. This could be because of the stigma that goes along with mental illness. It could also be because there are other physical reasons for a person to feel bad and some health professionals dismiss depression as a possibility. At AgeWell, however, we are quick to recognize the symptoms of both depression and dementia in our residents and offer them the help they need.
What Treatments Are Most Beneficial for Behavioral and Mental Health Issues?
There are two primary treatment options for behavioral health and mental illness, and these are medication and therapy. Often, these two are used in conjunction with each other. However, sometimes, they are employed independently.
Have More Questions?
Contact AgeWell today to schedule your appointment with one of our Colorado Springs behavioral health providers.